Universal Credit housing costs
To be eligible for Universal Credit help with housing costs, a tenant must:
- pay rent for the property
- be liable for the property
- live in the property
A tenant is liable for a property when their name is on the tenancy agreement.
In private housing, a tenant's housing costs that might be covered include:
- service charges
Universal Credit housing costs don't include rates.
A tenant's housing costs are paid to the landlord. This is a managed payment.
But Universal Credit can only pay the tenant's housing costs to the landlord when they have the landlord’s bank account information.
When a tenant isn’t eligible for direct payments
If your tenant is entitled to Universal Credit for their housing costs, they can’t ask for a direct payment when:
- they have rent arrears
- they are repaying rent arrears
- they’re repaying a benefit overpayment or budgeting loan
- they have a Social Fund debt
- they have a Discretionary Support debt
- they live in a hostel, refuge or residential care
- the Universal Credit payment is split between two members of the household
Their housing costs will be paid to you. Six months after a tenant has repaid rent arrears, they can ask for direct payments to be paid to them.
Landlords applying for a managed payment
If your tenant opts out of direct payments but they aren't paying their rent, you can apply for a managed payment of rent or rent arrears, to be paid to you.
Private landlords must complete a form to request a direct payment. To download a form, go to:
To apply for a rent arrears deduction, you'll need to complete a rent arrears form. For more information on rent arrears, go to:
If a tenant was getting Housing Benefit, they’re entitled to an extra two weeks’ Housing Benefit when they first claim Universal Credit. This is a transitional payment. It’s usually paid to the tenant’s landlord.
If your tenant has rent arrears, you can offset their transitional payment against arrears. If their rent is in credit, they can ask you for this amount.
Evidence about your tenant’s housing costs
When claiming Universal Credit for housing costs, your tenant will need to show evidence of:
- their rent
- service charges
You should give them a tenancy agreement or a letter confirming their housing costs. This should show a breakdown of housing costs, rent and rates as the Universal Credit housing costs don't include an amount for rates.
To read more about Universal Credit, go to:
Annual rent charges
If you increase the rent or service charges, your tenant needs to report these changes to Universal Credit. These changes could affect their Universal Credit payment.
A tenant in private rented housing needs to provide Universal Credit with evidence of increased charges. Universal Credit doesn't ask a private landlord to confirm these changes.
When Universal Credit contacts a landlord
If you’re a private housing landlord, Universal Credit doesn’t tell you your tenant is claiming housing costs. However, they’ll ask you for bank account information so that you can receive managed payments.
How often Universal Credit housing costs are paid
If you’re a private landlord, the Universal Credit amount for your tenant’s housing costs is paid monthly to your bank account.
How Universal Credit housing costs are calculated
If your tenant pays rent weekly, the monthly housing costs are worked out by multiplying the weekly rent by 52 weeks and dividing by 12 months.
If your tenant pays rent every four weeks, every month or once a year, the calculations are:
- four weekly payments are multiplied by 13 and divided by 12
- three monthly payments are multiplied by four and divided by 12
- annual payments are divided by 12
Universal Credit is calculated on a 52-week year, unless you charge rent over fewer than 52 weeks.
For rent charged over fewer than 52 weeks, the monthly housing costs are worked out by the number of weeks rent is charged. For example, if a tenant pays rent 48 weeks in the year, Universal Credit is calculated as weekly rent multiplied by 48 and divided by 12.
Overpayment of housing costs to a landlord
If a landlord gets an overpayment of Universal Credit for their tenant's housing costs, the landlord must repay the amount. Universal Credit will tell a landlord if an overpayment was made. They can take legal action to get this amount from the landlord.
Housing costs in supported accommodation
If you’re paid to provide someone with housing, care, support or supervision, this is supported accommodation. Universal Credit doesn’t pay these costs. The Housing Executive pays for supported accommodation.
Housing costs in temporary accommodation
If you’re paid to provide someone with temporary accommodation caused by homelessness or an emergency, Universal Credit doesn’t pay these costs.
The Housing Executive pays for temporary accommodation.
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